December 22, 2017 8:54 am

Pro-independence parties snag parliamentary majority in Catalan election, future unclear

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Friday said the absolute majority won by separatists in a regional election on Thursday was a victory of the "Catalan republic" over the Spanish state.

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Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called Friday for talks with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy following a regional Catalan election that gave pro-independence parties a parliamentary majority.

In a press conference in Brussels, where he fled almost two months ago to avoid arrest after pushing for independence, Puigdemont said Thursday’s election in the restive Spanish region opened “a new era” for Catalonia.

He added that he’d return to Barcelona if the new parliament elects him as leader, though legal protections he would have as an elected leader are unclear.

Puigdemont said he is ready to meet with Rajoy, who called the snap election after Catalan separatists declared independence in October following a referendum deemed illegal by Spanish authorities, anywhere in the European Union other than Spain, where he currently faces arrest.

“Recognizing reality is vital if we are to find a solution,” Puigdemont said.

Rajoy, who also fired the Catalan government that Puigdemont ran and dissolved its parliament, has ruled out independence for the wealthy northeastern Spanish region.

Though the pro-Spain Ciutadans (Citizens) collected most votes in the ballot, it was a bittersweet victory for the business-friendly party as separatist parties won most seats in the region’s parliament.

Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia snared 34 seats in the 135-seat regional assembly, making it the most popular separatist party. Two other pro-independence parties made up the dominant bloc: the left-wing republican ERC party, which collected 32 seats, and the radical, anti-capitalist CUP, which has four seats.

READ MORE: Catalan separatists set to win regional elections, deepening Spain’s political crisis

Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party came last with just three seats in what was a major blow to the country’s governing party.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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